Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Holly Derville-Teer, Owner of Hillsboro Dance Center, located in Hillsboro, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I own a dance studio. My customers are people ages 2-adult who want to learn to dance.
Tell us about yourself
After graduating from college with an Education and English major, I danced professionally for several years before starting my studio owner journey. I always knew I wanted to have my own dance studio. In my first year of teaching, I was given the opportunity to buy one of the studios where I taught. I did not take care of my work/life balance, and, having burned out after eleven years, I sold it but continued to teach for seven more years. I woke up one day and realized I was ready to do it again, but with all the knowledge I'd gained from the first studio. I started Hillsboro Dance Center in 2016. I signed a lease, advertised like crazy, and had forty students by the time we opened our doors two months later. I worked two other jobs for the first two years and taught almost every class.
When I sold my first studio, I thought it would be enough for me to have my own classes. I found that I not only want to teach but also be involved in creating the culture I work in, supporting people who work for the business and creating the program. Sometimes it is a lot of work, but the thing that makes it all worth it is to know that the studio is making a giant difference. The parents find a community, the dancers find friends, the teachers and staff have a place to work where they are valued and supported, and I get to create programs that meet the needs of the community and the individual dancers.
Dance is a life-changing art form; I'm so grateful to be a part of it and share it with others. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life. It's exciting to pass that on to others and to train some of the next generations of teachers and dancers.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is successfully creating a business from nothing.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is the sheer amount of work I have to do myself to have a successful dance studio. I am always working to find a better home/work balance and to find a way to delegate more.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The top three tips I'd give someone wanting to start a dance studio are:
- Create the studio you want. Don't make big decisions based on what other people are telling you. The person who will have to live with the decisions you make the longest is you. Create the place you want to work.
- Jump on every problem when it's small and not a big deal. The longer you wait, the bigger it gets.
- Really look at your employees to see what their strengths are and give them jobs that they will be good at. People tend to grow the most in areas they are already strong.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
- If something isn't working, learn to recognize it and change it!
- Believe in yourself.
- Calling is better than emailing if someone isn't happy about something or if you need to tell someone something difficult.
- You cannot be perfect all the time. If you make a mistake, the most important thing is what you do next, not that you made a mistake. Give yourself permission to be human.
- You will fail if your business doesn't generate enough money. Raise prices when you have to, and always keep an eye on the budget. Find a great CPA/accountant who can help you.
- Attend events where you can meet people who do what you do.
- Almost every problem to solve is an opportunity in disguise.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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